As one TV season ends, another starts, so the saying goes (it does, doesn’t it?). Viewers are lucky this week to have a plethora of great TV to watch! With The Flash pushing into it’s finale week and Supergirl bearing down, on its first season end, I am happy to see a show with such quality as Preacher making its way to our screens. Let’s see the highlights of this week, and as always, beware, spoilers below!
Preacher Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot
Before I head into this, I won’t be comparing this show to the comics. I have even held off reading the freebie on Comixology promoting the start of the season. I am so glad that I did. As a pilot episode, this ticked every single box. It introduced us to the main players, kicked off the main storylines, added intrigue and made you scream for more when the episode finished. It was genuinely great TV. If even half of the new series coming up this year are of this standard, I will be a very happy viewer! Happily, the viewing figures in the USA stood up to the episode quality, with 2.4 million viewers, a figure which I am sure will rise as the season continues.
Production quality was on point. Created by comic writer Garth Ennis for DC (Vertigo), the series ran between 1995 and 2000. However, with Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and Evan Goldberg at the helm, it could easily have descended into the Superbad-style of production. However, Preacher brings some interesting styles, which are great to watch! Firstly, it features the very AMC style of scene composition, popularised by Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul. Combining that composition with the events of the show gives a fascinating effect where the viewer doesn’t quite know what they are seeing, or where their focus should be. This joins up well with some well placed sound cues and some slightly overdue cuts to really put the viewer on edge. You know something is going to happen, but you don’t really know why.
It is important to recognise, however, that the impact of Rogen and Goldberg is not hidden from view. Apparently attempting to recreate a Tarantino film at times, the show does not shy away from gratuitous violence or scenes of gore. These are managed well. While not always the case, violence is sometimes hidden off-screen, allowing the viewer to join the dots for what chaos may be occurring just out of view. Similarly, the gore is so outlandish and crazy that it never really approaches anything more than a little squeamish. Even when it does get to that stage, the show quickly moves elsewhere, drawing the attention away. The use of excessively large location or time tags throughout only increases the impression that you are watching something a little “other”.
The casting is very well done. It took me a while to get by Dominic Cooper looking like Jonathan Frakes Junior, and allowing myself to believe that Ruth Negga actually was Raina from SHIELD, but once I had got through those two points, it was easy to see the quality on-screen. The dynamism of each of the cast members is evident even from this pilot. Dominic Cooper holds his own at the top of the listing, as Preacher Jesse Custer. Straddling the line between depression and a little less depression, Cooper is believable as the drinking, smoking and swearing preacher who really doesn’t belong in that small town. Joseph Gilgun turns on the Irish for the role of Cassidy. Even though we only see him in his element for a short period of time, it is clear that Gilgun owns the scene wherever he appears, and will be great fun. Finally for today, we have Ruth Negga as Tulip. Crashing onto our screens in a fireball of chaos and destruction, Negga owns her role. At no point does she appear wary in the position. Conversely, having only ever really seen her in Agents of SHIELD previously, I can’t imagine her ever having played the demure Raina at all. To the role of Tulip, she brings a playful, violent and chaotic side, along with an obvious darkness and history which I personally cannot wait to explore more.
I could wax lyrical so much more about this Pilot. The cast as a whole is amazing, and only writing about three members seems unfair on the others. Effects are well executed and are not overused. Instead, the show prefers to allude to events. Whether this is a result of being a pilot episode or the overall direction of the show, we are yet to see. For me, the way it is working right now is spot on. Overall this episode demonstrates extreme promise for the coming season. If it can hold the same pace and level of this first episode, it is sure to succeed.
The Flash Season 2, Episode 22 – Invincible
It didn’t take long during this episode to realise what was going to happen. Feeling all chipper and cheery after returning from the Speed Force, a confident Flash happily told all of his friends how sure he was of his victory over Zoom. Unfortunately, as any seasoned television viewer will know, all he did was recite the magic words of doom, which left us waiting for the inevitable fall. However, the journey to that fall this episode was great. The introduction of the Earth-2 Laurel Lance in the form of Black Siren was a welcome sight, particularly given the fate of her Earth-1 doppelgänger earlier this season in Arrow.
With the upcoming destruction of his city at the hands of Zoom’s metahuman forces, Barry spends his time putting out fires across the city. Gustin performs admirably, managing to convey a believable confidence, despite everyone around him just about holding it together. Buoyed by the return of Caitlin, the Flash zips here and there taking out metahumans, seemingly oblivious to Zoom’s master plan. Which, of course is the intention. With Barry focussed everywhere except on Zoom, he cannot see the endgame. Katie Cassidy as Laurel plays an excellent evil doppelgänger and it is fun to see the return of Killer Frost and Reverb. The cast obviously relishes in the opportunity to pay the other side of the coin, and they do so with such gusto that it seems a shame that the vanilla versions need to return. Not only that, the costume choices for the doppelgänger is always exceptional. No more so than in the case of the Black Siren. It is such a shame that this kit was never used as the standard for the Canary! It is in a fight with Laurel (Black Siren) where Flash’s confidence starts to waver, as he is quickly dispatched. It is only a timely rescue by Wally (who conveniently disregarded the Flash’s advice to stay away from trouble), which saved his bacon.
Back at Star Labs the team is working hard on a system to remove the Earth-2 metahumans from play. Taking the things they have previously discovered about “vibrations” of Earth-2 people, a method of winning is found. Obviously with a Harrison and Jessie Wells on this Earth, precautions are taken to keep them safe. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and Tom Cavanagh gives an incredibly emotional performance, where no words are needed. While the machine worked admirably and took out all of the metahumans, it isn’t long before Zoom’s absence is discovered. While the team was clearing the city of ne’er-do-well baddies, Zoom took the opportunity to create a rift and make his escape. With any immediate threat out of the picture, the team gather up Barry’s confidence and decide to have a celebration. We all know this is a curse, particularly at this stage of the season. Alas, the celebration was short-lived, as a shocking vision from Cisco joins up with the return of Zoom. The episode ends on a shocking scene, leading perfectly into next week’s finale.
Supergirl Season 1, Episode 17 – Manhunter
Recalling last week’s events, J’onn faced off against an evil Supergirl. This week saw the repercussions from that, as the DEO took Hank into custody. We have only had snippets of information from Hank throughout this season, mainly in respect to his relationship with Jeremiah Danvers and his promise to watch over his two daughters. I was glad to see this episode. I think that the enigma of Hank has been ignored for just long enough, and this episode opens up at a time when the viewer needs to know a little more.
Furthermore, a seemingly timely episode for the show, given the current political climate in its home country. While political discussions rage between presidential hopefuls, the show has taken the brave step of parading into the discussion, giving it’s own point of view. The show has already promoted many political causes, female empowerment being a perfect choice for a show where the lead characters are strong women. However, not happy with merely stepping into a discussion about immigration, Supergirl makes its opinion very clear and will shout it from the rooftops if need be. The question is not an easy one, and may not be only one question. The simplified version asks if aliens are dangerous, and even if they are, is what they offer worthy of the risk? The world has accepted Superman and Supergirl with open arms, as they save humanity in any way they can. However, when J’onn came to Earth, things were not as simple, and this episode demonstrates that. Supergirl demonstrates effectively that it can join the longer running series as part of the discussion, and should not be afraid of having an opinion and airing it. Watching this episode was enjoyable, it promoted thought, while keeping the true political message ticking in the background, never shoving it down our throats.
The story doesn’t only focus on J’onn’s history however. Flashbacks show how Alex and Kara used to behave, before the time of the DEO and Supergirl. They show how Hank’s presence in their life changed things, and how things could have been very different without him. In the present day, Kara is again struggling to balance her work and life balance, particularly with the presence of Siobhan, who is intent on destroying Kara. While Siobhan seems to take the lead, all is not as easy, and the episode ends for her with a huge revelation. Kara decides to bring Lucy into the small club who know her secret identity. Happy that the Lucy under the uniform will keep her secret, she brings her into the fold. No sooner as she does this, her help is required, as Hank and Alex are being shipped away. The episode closes with a shocking revelation as we approach the season finale.
Another great episode from Supergirl, combining the bright sunny demeanor of Kara with an increasingly dark undertone from the DEO. As the clouds gather, it is clear to the viewer that balancing her normal and super life is becoming more difficult for Kara, and that she should take note of how things worked out for Hank. The politics works well in this episode. At no point is it excessive, nor does it relate too closely to real life events. It is just enough for people to subconsciously make the connection and leave a few remnants behind for the viewer to consider while they wait for next week.
Another amazing week for TV! Some exceptional shows are closing up for the season, and some great shows are starting! Keep on Out of Lives for our upcoming reviews as we close out this amazing TV season.